A few different places around Albuquerque have escalators, including the international airport, some hotels, bookstores and department stores, movie theaters, entertainment or sports facilities, government offices, and some skyscraper commercial buildings in the downtown area.
Many individuals don’t think twice about riding an escalator. However, others find themselves crippled with fear over the prospect of having to use one. They question how serious are escalator injuries that may result from their use of this piece of machinery. Throughout the remainder of this article, we’ll explore some of the injury dangers that escalators pose, including their severity, and highlight the rights New Mexico law may afford you if you get hurt on one.
How Often Do Individuals Get Hurt on Escalators?
There’s no specific data widely available regarding escalator accidents. Any available statistics group elevator and escalator statistics together instead. Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, captures how at least 17,000 individuals suffer injuries on escalators or elevators annually in this country. At least 30 people lose their lives on them.
How Do Escalator Injuries Most Commonly Occur?
Almost every lawyer in our office has worked with clients injured in Albuquerque escalator accidents. Our Buckingham & Vega Law Firm attorneys have seen where the following incidents often leave escalator users hurt or dead:
Slips and Falls
Some of the leading causes of escalator falls include individuals:
- Losing their balance
- Improperly using it (such as engaging in horseplay)
- Overburdening themselves when getting onboard it (with shopping bags, strollers, walkers, kids, or something else)
If you’re researching how serious are escalator injuries, you first have to understand what most often causes them. These factors include equipment malfunctions, which may be caused by either manufacturing defects or inadequate maintenance. Such flaws may contribute to falls from escalators. A power surge, for example, may cause an escalator to suddenly shift forward or abruptly stop.
The following populations are most apt to fall from escalators:
- Elderly individuals: We experience a diminished equilibrium as we age, which can leave us more vulnerable to having balance issues, making it challenging to board the escalator and maintain a solid footing on the way, thus resulting in a fall.
- Already injured or disabled individuals: While many elderly individuals may rely on the use of a cane or walker for ease of mobility, countless non-seniors with a variety of physical, cognitive, or visual impairments may rely on similar assistive devices or tools for getting around autonomously. Falls may occur when they’re forced to abandon their walkers, canes, or crutches, thus causing them to lose their balance and fall.
- Individuals with obstructed views or carrying heavy loads: Anyone who boards an escalator needs to be capable of seeing where they’re going. They also need to ensure that they’re not overburdened by a heavy load, as gravity can easily cause them to fall up or down an escalator. Even something perhaps as light as shopping bags or as awkwardly shaped as a stroller can cause someone to poorly board the escalator or trip them up, causing them to fall down the moving staircase.
- Parents with young children: Children often want to be left to do things independently, don’t follow instructions, and have short attention spans. The combination of these factors may make children impatient for the minute-long trip down the escalator, especially if you want to hold on to their hand and ask them to stand in one place without moving. Children often fall from escalators, sometimes causing their parents to tumble down with them.
Serious escalator injuries may also result from horseplay, which may entail people taking things on or engaging in actions outside of an escalator’s intended use, is another factor that often results in falls, both down it and over its walls.
Entrapment or Caught-in Incidents
Caught-in and entrapment incidents are similar in that they involve something becoming stuck in a piece of machinery. There are a few different types of entrapment that are more likely to occur on escalators than others, including:
- Between-step entrapment
- Comb plate entrapment
- Handrail entrapment
Also, if you perform a basic internet search of how serious are escalator injuries, there are countless stories of the following objects becoming trapped in the different moving components that comprise an escalator:
- Purse straps
- Shopping bag handles
- Shoe soles, heels, or laces
- Box flaps
- Body parts (specifically fingers)
What may initially be a relatively minor injury can easily become a more significant, life-threatening one the more time passes between the onset of the entrapment until someone shuts off the escalator’s power.
Even once the power is cut, an individual’s health may suffer irreparable harm as they await release from the escalator’s moving components.
Some instances also start as entrapment and end up in a fall.
Injuries That Result From Escalator Accidents
Falls from escalators can result in various injuries, ranging from minor to major ones, including:
- Head or brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
Caught-in or entrapment types of escalator accidents may cause some of the same injuries plus the following additional ones:
- Compartment syndrome (a building up of blood pressure along a certain portion of the body)
The stairs and platforms at the top and bottom of most escalators tend to be sharp, which may cause much deeper cuts requiring surgical repair, infection control, and stitches to treat.
Who Can You Hold Liable for Your Escalator Accident Injuries?
There’s an expectation that Albuquerque property owners who make escalators available to their visitors have taken the necessary steps to ensure their safety. You may be able to hold them liable if you can prove that a property owner’s oversight led to your injuries.
You may also be able to take legal action against an escalator manufacturer, maintenance company, or its installer if some kind of manufacturing, installation, or other type of oversight resulted in the equipment malfunctioning.
Any premises liability lawyer will generally be forthright in warning you that you generally cannot sue anyone for compensation to cover your escalator-involved injuries or other losses if your own negligence, such as using it improperly, resulted in you getting hurt or your loved one perishing.
The concept of liability can be a hard one to grasp. What may seem like negligence to you may not meet the New Mexico standard that allows you to move forward in filing a premises or product liability lawsuit.
One of our Buckingham & Vega Law Firm attorneys can help you make sense of your legal options during your initial consultation with them. Contact us to get that appointment scheduled as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights.